Transition Guelph

Category: General

Guelph Tool Library is moving to their new place at Tytler Public School and need your support for this and future expansions. Please consider supporting them through this campaign!

The next Repair Cafe will be on Sat March 25th at St George’s Church from 11am to 3pm! This event will be part of the Resilience Festival. There will be volunteers who will help to fix electrical appliances, electronics, clocks, computers, clothing, jewelry, etc. There will also be a volunteer who will help with sharpening knives! Bring your broken stuff and have them fixed with the help of our volunteer experts!

Visit the Facebook page to know more about the event:

Visit the GTL website to learn more about Repair Cafe:

This is a free event organized by the Guelph Tool Library.

The next Repair Cafe will be on Sat Feb 18th at Tytler Public School from 12 to 4! There will be volunteers who will help to fix electrical appliances, electronics, computers, clothing, jewelry, etc. Bring your broken stuff and have them fixed with the help of our volunteer experts!

Visit the Facebook page to know more about the event:

Visit the GTL website to learn more about Repair Cafe:

This is a free event organized by the Guelph Tool Library.

Transition Guelph’s GROW gardens had a productive first year with plans to expand and offer more opportunities for community members in 2017. GROW is a volunteer maintained, food garden located at Grace Community Church ( The garden is just north of Guelph on the Marden Road. Grace provided Transition Guelph with a rent free section of their property to develop a garden that can serve the local community.

The project began as part of the Back Share Sharing Program and Mike Barber has been coordinating the effort since its conception. According to Mike “the goal of the GROW garden is to provide healthy, organically grown vegetables and fruit for local individuals and well known emergency food cupboards and drop-in centres, while educating those who have an interest in growing their own food”.

GROW has managed, with limited funds, to create a 2500 square foot fruit and vegetable garden, plant their first row of fruit trees in an expanding orchard, plant a pollinator garden, and start a perennial vegetable area with rhubarb, asparagus and a few other plants.

This year GROW provided hundreds of pounds of food to a number of groups working with local food insecurity. In the process, GROW has been able to build community through gardening by providing space and resources to around a dozen volunteers. Alisha Arnold, Neighbourhood Support Worker for the Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group, wrote to acknowledge “the wonderful work The GROW gardens are doing. They have very dedicated volunteers working in unity to make great things happen against the fight for food security within the Guelph community. Organizations such as GROW are becoming more and more of a necessity to fight food security issues within many different communities.”

Next year, GROW plans on building an open air learning space and a tool shed/water catchment system. GROW is also expanding the garden’s footprint and orchard. According to Mike Barber ” the long term plan is to provide free workshops on everything from canning and seed saving to beekeeping. GROW volunteers have a wealth of knowledge and are happy and willing to share them time to help others gain new skills.” Volunteers are always welcome and their will opportunities for gardeners to help with the community plot as well as have space to grow their own vegetables. Look for more information about the GROW gardens in the spring of 2017.

Guelph Tool Library will have its second Repair Cafe on Sat Dec 3rd at St James the Apostle Church from 9 to 1! There will be volunteers who will help to fix toys, Christmas ornaments, clothing, jewelry, electrical appliances, etc. There will also be a holiday gift swap events! This is a free event.

Would you like to volunteer fixing stuff? please contact


Repair Cafe

Repair Cafe – Saturday August 20 from 9 am until 1 pm

The Guelph Tool Library is presenting Guelph’s first Repair Café. The Repair Café will take place in the morning of Saturday August 20 at St. James the Apostle (86 Glasgow Street North, Guelph).

A Repair Café is an event where people volunteer to try and fix broken items. Stations will be set up in the hall and outside with volunteers offering to fix damaged items or provide advice about next steps. Tables will be set up for repairing jewellery, simple sewing fixes, small appliance repair, and bike repairs. Volunteers from the University of Guelph Bike Club and Transition Guelph will be among the people helping out.

Tool Library Coordinator Susan Carey said “It is a fantastic project to bring to Guelph. Repair Cafés offer a chance to repair a favourite item and to keep it out of the landfill”.

The Repair Café will also offer a Swap Table. Participants bring an item in good working order that they no longer need and swap it for something of equivalent value. The table is a unique way to share items and reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill.

Finally, the Repair Café will be a chance for the Guelph Tool Library to promote itself and to sell memberships. The Guelph Tool Library will also be accepting donations of gently used kitchen appliances, gardening tools, and hand tools.

The Guelph Tool Library is looking for volunteers to help out with the Repair Café. If you have a skill that you would like to share or if you just want to help out. Please contact

MapLocation: The site search has ended and we have officially found our new home!!  We are located at 123 Woolwich Street, Guelph, ON.


Open House: Come for a tour on Saturday, July 16, 2016 between 11:00am-2:00pm.  See our new space, check out our current collection of tools, and join the tool library!  This open house is part of the Urban Farm Tour, more info at


Memberships: Our website is up and running, which means you can become a member.  Visit or come to our open house this Saturday, July 16th to join.


Tool Donations: We have received many gracious donations of basic garden tools, but we haven’t received much kitchen related inventory. A list of things we could use is listed at the end of this update. Please spread the word!


Repair Cafe: We’re hosting our first Repair Cafe on the morning of August 20th at St James the Apostle Church. You can bring in a broken household item and ideally, get it fixed! There will be various repair stations: electrical items, jewelry, zippers, clothing, furniture and wooden items, etc. The CSA Bike Centre will be there for minor bike repairs and maintenance. There will also be a locally grown salad buffet brunch, tool library donation drop-off, swap tables and info displays. More info to come!


Volunteers: Yup, we’ll need them. Interested? Email us and I’ll add you to our list. We believe in giving volunteers interesting and creative tasks. Write-ups of volunteer positions are in the works.


To contact the tool library, email


Follow us on Twitter @GToolLibrary


Kitchen wish list (by no means is this a complete list!)

  • Blender with glass jug
  • Hand mixer
  • Slow cooker
  • Stand mixer with dough hooks
  • Pressure canner
  • Toaster oven
  • Hot plate
  • Propane outdoor cooker
  • Smoker
  • Charcoal BBQ
  • Canning pot
  • Stock pot
  • Rice cooker
  • Pasta mill
  • Grain press
  • Flour mill
  • Various food thermometers
  • Various cake tins
  • Icing kit
  • Juicer
  • Large roasting pan
  • Large serving platters
  • Foley mill
  • Scales
  • Sets of dishes, glassware etc. suitable for catering


Tool Library

Susan Carey, chair of the Urban Food Working Group at Transition Guelph, holds some of the hand tools, kitchen tools and seed packs soon to be available as part of the organization’s latest projects.

Originally published in the Guelph Mercury at
By Doug Coxson

Susan Carey wants you to take a moment to consider the inch of dust collecting on the mitre saw in your basement.

While you’re at it, ponder the waste-of-space wheelbarrow in your garden shed; or the rototiller you’ve always wanted but couldn’t justify buying.

By the way, did you to know the average lifetime use for a power drill is only 13 minutes?

In other words — you don’t need a drill, you need a hole in the wall.

Carey, who chairs the Urban Food Working Group at
Transition Guelph, thought about these and other realities as she and co-conspirator John Dennis discussed the possibility of launching a tool library over the last year.

What’s a tool library, you ask?

It’s a library where you borrow tools instead of books.

Instead of forking out $200 for a reciprocating saw that will end up gathering dust between uses, you could join a tool library and get the tools you need, when you need them, at a fraction of the cost.

Many who buy into the concept end up donating tools to free up space in their homes.

“It’s such a good fit for this town,” says Carey, who was inspired by Transition Guelph’s mandate to build a resilient and sustainable community.

It’s also a good fit for Transition Guelph — the eight-year-old, not-for-profit organization that has spawned innovative projects like urban farm tours, a seed exchange, a community orchard and the Urban Sugaring Project, which loans out buckets and taps for residents to collect sap and participate in a communal boil-down of maple syrup.

The tool library concept grew from Guelph’s backyard-sharing program, created to expand the inventory of backyard space available for community gardens, and the tools needed to maintain them.

It sparked the idea to create a system where residents could pay a small, annual fee for the opportunity to reserve agricultural tools through an easy-to-use website, then pick them up and return them to a central location.

But it’s not a new concept. The first tool library opened in Berkeley, Calif., in 1979. Today, there are close to 120 tool libraries around the world, Toronto having the second one in Canada.

In Guelph, the push to launch a tool library really began to take off when Transition Guelph received a $5,000 wellness grant from the city and a $500 donation from the Rotary Club. Today, it’s nearing reality as a summer launch date approaches and donations of tools and equipment continue to roll in.

“The mayor and council have been very supportive,” Carey says. “They see this as a benefit to the community.”

Last fall, a community survey about what the Guelph tool library should include gathered 127 responses that named everything from post hole diggers to pressure canners. Since then, some of the big items added to the inventory are four wheelbarrows, a cider press and a rototiller.

JD Engines has offered to donate maintenance service for the entire tool library inventory as it grows.

Other parts of the project are still in the works, including securing a location, launching the website and the possibility of offering delivery for some of the bigger tools.

One site being considered is the former Acker’s Furniture space on Carden Street. Other ideas have the tool inventory stored in a shipping container stationed in a parking lot donated by a local business.

Guelph’s Tool Library wouldn’t have happened without help from the Toronto Tool Library and its co-founder Lawrence Alvarez, who provided guidance that included access to the lending software developed by the Berkeley Tool Library.

Alvarez helped establish Toronto’s Tool Library in March 2013. It now has four locations, including an expanded location on Danforth Avenue called The Sharing Depot, which opened last week to give members access to a selection of camping and outdoor equipment, toys and games.

Alvarez is unapologetic about how the idea grew from efforts around reducing consumption and reducing our carbon footprint.

“We’ve had people say that this would disrupt existing business, but for me I’m always trying to look at what the world needs in 50 years,” he says.

“It’s always been about the disruption of the needless consumption of these things. It’s a waste of money, a waste of space and it’s a tremendous waste of the earth’s resources”

“We can’t continue to use the earth in disposable, single-use fashion anymore.”

Carey says the concept has gained traction as the sharing economy grew and people looked for ways to simplify their lives.

“Western society has brought capitalism to a stage in development where there is simply too much stuff,” she says, citing her own experience with the local clothing closet where they’re often overwhelmed with donations.

But she doesn’t see a project like this hurting local businesses, mainly because the concept isn’t for everyone and those who use it will still have a disposable income to spend on other stuff.

“People are still shopping, they’re just shopping differently.”

Carey also sees the tool library as a way to bolster community connectedness and sees complementary goals between the tool library and places like the Diyode community workshop.

The Wyndham Street maker space offers a place for its paying members to use various equipment including electronics, woodworking and metalworking tools. It’s a space where Carey says collaboration could happen — perhaps a “repair café” where people could drop by, enjoy a coffee and have experts offer quick fixes for things like broken zippers, dead cellphones or “the lamp the dog chewed the cord on.”

Another offshoot of the tool library is a plan to develop a kitchen library. That concept offers shared kitchen equipment, from stand mixers to bread ovens.

Just last week, Guelph’s Urban Food Working Group hosted a roundtable at the former Acker’s building, where plans are coming together to develop a shared commercial community kitchen.

“Those plans would complement the kitchen equipment we aspire to make available to the community,” Carey says.

Carey hopes it becomes a “runaway project,” and sees a day when collaboration happens between Transition Guelph and the Guelph Public Library, giving every library patron access to the tool library at little to no cost.

The ultimate goal of any tool library is to eliminate the economic barrier to access.

So far the community has embraced the idea, and Carey’s eager to hear from even more Guelphites who want to become members.

More information is available by emailing

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